On Crossing Paths (and Continents)

On my morning run I pause to look out over the scene and see the regularity of the tide, slowly coming in, going out. Like breath it is constant and in the moment, its change is undetectable. It is only when we pay close attention that we see the water creep up one micro-bubble at a time, like noticing the gentle flow of breath over our lip.

I looked up and saw contrails left by planes. Some were fading and others were more fresh and they went in every direction.

It made me think of crossing paths – by chance, by design, and when we notice. Who are the important people in your life? When have you met them? And does it take until they are gone for you to notice their impact?

Sometimes the most important people are not the glamourous ones. Earlier this week as I walked along Hollywood Blvd. someone was about to get a star in the Walk of Fame. What an awesome achievement, and a crowd gathered. I wondered if that star would impact those gathered more than the friend or neighbour who took the time to come with them? There are different things to notice.

Sometimes I am keenly aware that someone isĀ there and I am very lucky to have them there. A student may have travelled to see me, or a friend, or family. It is easier to notice the special visits, but what about the background, the people who aren’t the star of the show?

This sentiment was encapsulated for me in a moment last weekend. I attended a wedding and the officiant said to the couple: Take a moment to turn and look around you. Turn and have a good look at everyone. These are the people, friends and family, who have come to be with you and they will continue to surround you with friendship and love.

It was incredibly moving and what happened in those few moments is we all noticed one another. Boundaries of role melted. We recognised one another, and without words could affirm that yes, we are here for you.

Not every noticing or affirmation is quite so dramatic, but I wonder if and how we recognise the journeys people make to show up and be in our lives. The journey could be crossing a continent or crossing the street. Often the most unassuming, seemingly chance encounters can be the flap of a butterfly’s wing that propagates change.

Looking up at the sky and seeing the fading contrails, I thought about the paths that have crossed with mine. Whether by accident or intentionally, thank you.

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